|Harley Dealership in Sturgis|
|My Toy Hauler & F350|
Back in 2008 I owned a Toy Hauler fifth wheel trailer and used it to trailer my bike and a friend's bike up to South Dakota. We started in Mission, Texas and went up through the panhandle and into Colorado then Nebraska and South Dakota. My Toy Hauler was a 37' Keystone Raptor which I pulled with a Ford F350 diesel. Pulling that much weight was never a problem, stopping on a dime was another story. There was so much "mass" behind you that it could easily push you if you weren't careful. I never really had trouble handling it, but you had to pay attention to under-passes since it required about a 13' 6" clearance. Turning tight corners was another thing you had to watch out for. I once ran over a curb in Eagle Pass while pulling over to decide where to eat (letting my stomach do the thinking instead of my head) and the tire popped like a ballon. Fortunately, we were only about a half mile from a truck stop where they called a guy to remove and replace the tire. That incident starting me thinking about replacing the Toy Hauler with something I can maintain myself. It was obvious that changing a tire is no simple task when trying to jack-up a 15,000lb unit. Turning a fifth wheel is much easier than turning a tow-behind unit and you can surprise yourself with a little practice how tight a turn-around you can maneuver on a fifth wheel. Regardless, the Toy Hauler is a beast and you can't get too confident pulling that unit down the highway.
We left Mission, Texas early in the morning joined by another couple from Pharr, Texas and quickly made our way past San Antonio and on to I10 West. We then turned Northwest and headed to Fredericksburg then San Angelo. We kept going until we were north of Lubbock and stopped for the night at an RV Park. It was past 10pm by then and we had been on the road over 14 hours. We moved out early and headed through the Oklahoma panhandle and into Colorado. We ended our second day in the late afternoon at the Sterling State Park. The park was fairly deserted and we had most of the park to ourselves.
|Sterling State Park - Colorado|
Once out of Eastern Colorado the countryside started to get more interesting, everything was green, much different than the type of landscape we have in South Texas. We went into Rapid City then ran uphill into Nemo, a small village in the hills about 20 miles from Sturgis. We stayed at Big Moma's place which is a horse ranch most of the year except during Sturgis' Bike Rally when she converts the place into an RV and Camping ground. We arrived the week before the rally in order to ride across Wyoming and camp out at Yellowstone National Park. The camp ground was really great. We had pick of any spot since we were there early so we backed up our RV close to the stream running behind us and about a hundred yards from the highway. We had a couple of friends join us, one from Minnesota and the other from Wisconsin. They joined us in Nemo and camped out a few hundred yards from where we parked the RV. We unloaded the bikes and made ourselves at home for a couple of days before heading out to Wyoming and Yellowstone National Park.
|Creek by our Toy Hauler|
Once we got back from our ride to Yellowstone we made time to join up with some other friends for some nice riding. Our first day we rode to Mt. Rushmore and rode through the Needles and through Custer State Park. We also made it to the Crazy Horse monument. We made time to stop by some good lunch spots and had a good time.
The next couple of days we would ride in to Sturgis to check out all the sites including all the different bike vendors although we didn't spend any money on all the available add-ons. Back in Nemo we spent the evening planning our BBQ menu and having a few refreshing brews as we sat around and enjoyed the nearby creek, the high cliff beyond the creek and passing motorcycles. Big Moma's had a bar setup at one end of the pasture which made it nice once we ran out of beer and their live music meant we didn't have to worry about finding our own.
We ventured into Deadwood one morning to check it out and ended up at a restaurant that was also a bar and casino. The slot machines were already going as we sat down for breakfast, but we didn't waste our money on any gambling. Deadwood was founded in 1876 after gold was discovered in the Black Hills in 1874. The town was famous for its outlaws and gamblers. Wild Bill Hickok was shot in a saloon with the famous "Dead Man's Hand" of aces and eights. Wild Bill Hickok and Calamity Jane are both buried in Deadwood. We walked around Deadwood for a while before heading out to the Interstate.
Sturgis, South Dakota is home to the largest or second largest motorcycle rally in the world. It's always held the first full week in August. We had been out to Yellowstone National Park during our first week and spent the second week in our Raptor in Nemo. Nemo is relatively higher elevation than Sturgis so its cooler and certainly lots less crowded. It's about 20 miles from Sturgis so it was a quick 20 minute ride into the rally. Our first trip into Sturgis was one of those where you just follow the other bikers hoping someone knows where they're headed. As it happened, we ended up parked by the local Harley dealership and in the middle of everything. What's best about Sturgis is that there are so many vendors that you get to at least see products closeup, where you can grab them and check them out. That's a treat compared to the blind purchasing done on the internet.
Of course, there's lots of demos as well and bars with live music. They must bring in police from throughout the state because they are everywhere and there's no drinking on public sidewalks, streets, or public places so those that happen to walk out of a bar with a beer got zapped fairly quickly. That was rare since most places had someone at the door to remind patrons that you couldn't take that beer with you. As for food, we mostly stuck to the vendors selling whatever verses eating inside a restaurant. Restaurant food was okay, but nothing to write home about.
In all, I think we went into Sturgis only twice since once you've seen it, it doesn't much change. We had a much nicer time back in Nemo with our friends, our BBQ, beer, and music. It was so relaxing that we didn't miss all the buzz down at Sturgis.
All in all, the rally and just the fact that we were in a state where everything was green and cool compared to the 100 degree weather in South Texas made this a special trip. We got to see our friends who joined us at Big Moma's and met their friends from different states. That made 10 of us riding around and enjoying each other's company and the great countryside as well as the rally in Sturgis. Every rider should make that trip a least once in their lifetime.
|Sitting by Toy Hauler: Checking email and enjoying a couple of beers!|
|Jaime, Ricardo, & Mike pointing up to the cliff beyond the pasture.|
|Friendly Man in Deadwood|
|View of Mount Rushmore as we exit a tunnel|
|Stream Running Through Big Mama's Pasture|
|Passing Through Roswell New Mexico|
|At Santa Fe Plaza - Birthday Girl|
|We're checking out some on the spot pin striping work.|
|Irma's Taking a Break at Sturgis|
|She better watch those hot pipes!|
|George wasn't saying much!|
|In the Needles as we approach a 360 turn!|
|Where to Now?|
|One of many one lane tunnels|
|Here's the Gang at Crazy Horse Monument |
|Low Clouds Approaching|
|Entering Hill City|
|He wanted to tattoo Irma|
|Take a Tequila Shot or get bounced!|
|Where's My Bike?|
|Hey, another Chicano!|
|She was on Letterman that week!|
|Fishnets still in style?|
|After many miles we get back to Texas!|
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|Ricardo and Irma in Sturgis|